Diverse Group of Social Justice and Faith Leaders Embark on Fellowship to Unlock the Power of Technology

TIDEL Press Release – Cohort Announcement

Categories: Press Releases, Union News

Through education from top design experts and in-depth collaboration, leaders will uncover innovative new ways to put faith into practice for the common good. 

New York – Today, the Technology, Innovation, and Digital Engagement Lab (TIDEL) announced the inaugural cohort for its TIDEL Fellowship. TIDEL – housed at Union Theological Seminary and funded by the Lilly Endowment’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative – will enable an impressive array of faith and social justice leaders to explore how to use technology, human-centered design, and new innovations to advance their missions. Other TIDEL partners include Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, New York Theological Seminary, RISE Together Mentorship Network, and The Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice.

Dr. Gabby Cudjoe Wilkes, who has 15 years of experience in branding, coaching, and strategy – plus nearly a decade of experience as a New York City faith leader – serves as the inaugural director of the fellowship. She said, “There’s no question: Faith leaders have profound impacts on all levels of their communities. By embracing the power of technology, they can supercharge their efforts and make an even bigger difference in the world. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with this talented, diverse group of leaders on such important work.”

The TIDEL fellows represent a wide array of faith traditions, racial backgrounds, careers, and experience levels – and come from more than a dozen U.S. states. The cohort will use the skills from the fellowship in a variety of ways, including improving their connections with digital-only communities, offering lifelong learning opportunities, bolstering hybrid worship, and boosting mentorship capabilities.

“TIDEL offers a remarkable opportunity. In today’s world, faith and social justice leaders need to understand and harness technology to drive ethical progress. With such an impressive group of leaders from all different backgrounds working together, there’s no question that game-changing innovation will emerge from the fellowship,” said Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, President of Union Theological Seminary. 

During this highly interactive fellowship, the cohort will learn from leading experts in technology and design. Sheila Kasasa serves as the design thinking course developer and lead facilitator. Faith-based design thinking experts Dr. Lauren Ng & Bethanny Stole will guide small-group discussions. The design thinking course offers itself in partnership with AIGA, the professional association for design.

On March 13-14, participants will come together for the inaugural TIDEL Fellows Summit, a two-day intensive designed for collaboration and community. Fellows will put the learnings of the design thinking course into practice, learn from their cohort leaders, and begin working on their projects. 

The fellows’ work in TIDEL will officially culminate in 2025. Fellows shared their enthusiasm for being part of TIDEL. 

Charlotte McAdams, Co-Founder of The Spiritual Care Project and Harvard Divinity School student, said, “I’m excited to be part of a heart-driven collective. I love thinking, dreaming, and building with people who see innovation as an ethical imperative. By centering on ministry innovation, we can show that justice can be at the heart of new systems of spiritual care. Religion doesn’t have to be seen as an institution that is solely ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but a flexible system with space to grow in more just directions.”

Rev. Dr. Gail Davis, Assistant to The Pastor at the historic Shiloh Baptist Church (VA), said, “I’m excited about working with a group that gets to be innovative, creative, and motivative. Together, we’ll push each other into new and next-level ministry spaces.

Rev. La Tonja Ellis, Pastor at Grant Memorial AME Church and Director of Human Resources & Culture at Children’s Defense Fund, said, “The TIDEL fellowship is a unique opportunity to learn, design, build, and make impact. It excites me that there are so many brilliant and compassionate minds and skills in this group. New relationships, new tools, and the creation of a brave space to innovate, are all absolute wins.”

Rev. Dr. Letiah Fraser, Pastor & Chaplain at The Open Table Kansas City, said, “I am excited about being in an ecumenical, multi-religious space dialoguing and working together to create more accessible hybrid worship spaces. I am also excited to get to know everyone and to grow together professionally and personally.”


About Union Theological Seminary

Union Theological Seminary (UTS), founded in 1836 in New York City, is a globally recognized seminary and graduate school of theology where faith and scholarship meet to reimagine the work of justice. A beacon for social justice and progressive change, Union Theological Seminary is led by a diverse group of theologians and activist leaders. Drawing on both Christian traditions and the insights of other faiths, the institution is focused on educating leaders who can address critical issues like racial equity, criminal justice reform, income inequality, and protecting the environment. Union is led by Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, the 16th President and the first woman to head the 187-year-old seminary.


Meet Our Fellows

Jenn Louie & Charlotte McAdams
Spiritual Care Project; Harvard Divinity School students
Cambridge, MA / Somerville, MA

Rev. Elijah Burton & Rev. Mark Vorenkamp
Revolution Church
Lansing, Michigan

Nora Cunningham & Olivia DiAgostino
United Women In Faith
Bronx, NY/Dunellen, NJ

Rev. Dan Chadwick & Rev. Letiah Frasier
Freedom Church of the Poor/Freedom Church of the Poor Kansas City Collective
Kansas City, MO

Rev. Dr. Regina Moore & Rev. Merianna Harrelson
Southeast Conference of the UCC; MORE Justice of Columbia; SC Christian Action Council; Garden of Grace UCC & State Legislatures
Sumpter, South Carolina / Camden, South Carolina

Dr. Gabriella Lettini & Professor Taya Shere
Star King School for the Ministry (faculty); The Center for Multireligious Studies; Jewish Ancestral Healing; The Waldensian Church of Italy
Sarasota, FL & Beacon, NY

Ryan Wong & Gerardo Ciprian
Brooklyn Zen Center
Millerton, NY / Bronx, NY

Rev. William Thomas & Rev. Marvin Bailey
New Bethel AME Church; Atlanta East District of AME Church
Conyers, GA

Tony Eskridge & Pauline Pisano
KAIROS Center for Religions, Rights & Social Justice
Memphis, TN               

Becca Forsynth & Anna Lara Lopez
KAIROS Center for Religions, Rights, & Social Justice, Poor Peoples’ Campaign; Freedom Church of the Poor.
Bronx, NY

Ciara Taylor & Rev. Dr. Savina Martin
Tell Me Something Good
New York, NY

Rev. Rochelle Andrews & Rev. Yvette Blair-Lavallais
RISE Women of Color in Ministry
Dallas, TX / College Park, MD

Rev. Dr. Diane Bogues & Rev. Equilla Curry
Lancaster Theological Seminary
York, PA

Garlinda Burton & Rev. Angela Cooley
RISE/Memphis; Nashville Mentors
Memphis, TN / Nashville, TN

Jalesha Bass & James Jones
Union Theological Seminary students
New York, NY

Rev. Dr. Gail Davis & Rev. Audrey Adkins Williamson
Mother AME Zion Church; Berean Baptist Church; Shiloh Baptist Church
Iselin, New Jersey / Norfolk, VA

Rev. Cassandra Henderson & Rev. Brittni Palmer
The Interfaith Children’s Movement
Atlanta, GA / Trenton, NJ

Rev. Kyla Brantley & Rev. Kimberly Johnson
St. Matthew AME Church; National Council of Negro Women
Drexel Hill, PA / Ladson, SC

Rev. Dr. Jacqueline Lynch & Rev. Dr. Lisa Robinson
RISE; Union Seminary; Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church
Summerville, SC / Elmont, NY

Dr. Wanda Paulk Holder & Dr. Myrna Thurmond Malone
The Margie Ree Hansford Thurmond Family Life Center
Decatur, GA / Riverdale, GA

Rev. Dr. Melanie Jones Quarles & Rev. LaTonja Ellis
The Katie Geneva Canon Center for Womanist Leadership; Children’s Defense Fund; McCormick Theological Seminary.
Richmond, VA/Chicago, IL